Page last updated at 09:37 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 10:37 UK

Museums 'boosted by staycation'

Museum visitors
Museum visits have become a recession-busting pasttime

UK museums and art galleries have seen a rise in visitor numbers due to the recession but face financial worries, a new study has revealed.

Two-thirds of cultural institutions reported a rise in admissions during the summer, according to The Art Fund.

But at least a quarter reported having to deal with public funding cuts, rising running costs and heavier reliance on voluntary staff.

The survey encompassed 225 museums, including the London's V&A and Tate.

The results cover the period from March to September this year.

A fifth of museums and galleries reported a rise of 10% in visitor numbers over the summer, boosted by UK families remaining in the country and a weak pound bolstering foreign tourism.

'Distraction'

Some 63% of museums offering free entry to their permanent collections saw visitors increase.

Institutions report that their incomes are remaining steady despite financial worries, while museums funded by local authorities are worse off.

Some of them told The Art Fund that their running costs have risen by 30% compared to the same period last year.

Andrew McDonald, The Art Fund's director, said: "It's clear that when times are tough our cultural institutions provide both a great value-for-money experience and a distraction from financial worries.

"It is worrying to see that investment in museums and galleries appears to be drying up just at the point they have the most to offer people."

Mr McDonald added it was important that quality did not suffer as a result of a need to economise.

The study revealed that museums' investments and income from corporate hospitality have been affected by the economic downturn.



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